With two events in one, Puerto Rico celebrated its first international multidisciplinary Windsurfing/Kitesurfing event, last weekend July 9th to 11th.
Both events attracted sailors from countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Turkey, France, and United States. The kitesurfing portion was an IKA sanctioned event, titled the Caribbean Kite Racing Championship, which awarded $10,000 USD in prize money and 410 IKA ranking points. This event is the first kite racing event of its class in the island of Puerto Rico.
One week before competition, locals started to see some familiar faces from top professionals that started to arrive for training. Among these, Damien Leroy (2nd place in the 2010 World Championships) and girlfriend Melissa Gil (ranked 1st in Offshore speed). Also, later in the week current World Champion Adam Koch, his brother Andrew Koch, top French rider Julien Kerneur and two time Olympic medalist Michael Gebhardt showed up to test the conditions.
The conditions for racing were outstanding, with warm flat water and daily winds constantly blowing above 20 MPH sometimes gusting up to 29 MPH. IKA representative and Race Director Bruno De Wannemaeker set a course that was short and close to shore, bringing exciting racing to the spectators lining the sea wall. The short course, multiple lap format was fast and furious, and was an exciting departure from long leg races typically seen at course racing events.
Puerto Rico’s Day 1 of racing featured some of the best course racers in the world going head to head against each other and also against some very talented local foil boarders. Six three-lap races later, Damien Leroy and Adam Koch proved that they would be the ones to beat. At the end of the day Damien Leroy from Cabrinha was on close lead, followed by Adam Koch. Also, the surprise of the day was local Phil Morstad from KitesurfPR, which even though this was his first kite racing event, proved to be a strong competitor by placing fourth place after Julien Kerneur.
On Day 2 of the event, a new fun category composed of 26 local kiters called Weekend Warriors was invited for racing. For most it was their first time racing, thus after the skippers meeting, they all gathered to learn some of the basics of kite racing from Puerto Rican Olympic Windsurfer, KitesurfPR owner and co-organizer of the event, Karla Barrera.
On day 3, the conditions proved to be trickier by having a few dramatic changes in wind strength. This posed the additional challenge for competitors of having to be quick thinkers and select the right equipment. After a total, of 13 races Damien Leroy had a strong point advantage over the other competitors securing his lead and giving him the title of new Caribbean Kite Racing Champion. Adam Koch followed in second place, and Julien Kerneur in third place.
In the weekend warrior class the positioning was a follows: 1st Xavier Lay, 2nd Bruno Giuntoli and 3rd place Orlando de Jesus.
To learn more about future kitesurfing events in Puerto Rico please check The Puerto Rico Windsurfing & Kitesurfing Association website: http://www.prwindkite.org